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British PM Chung faces first electoral test in local races

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faces his first major electoral test in office next week in local elections, in which opposition Labor hopes to capitalize on a year of confusion for the Conservatives ahead of national elections.

Sunak has sought to restore the Conservative Party’s credibility since taking office in October, but has struggled to draw a line under the turmoil that plagued his predecessors, despite progress on issues such as Brexit.

Boris Johnson’s scandal-ridden tenure and the chaotic economic policies that ousted Liz Truss in two months have left Chung with an incredible legacy: a double-digit lead in Labor polls.

Local council votes across much of England on May 4 give Labor a chance to prove its electoral credentials, with the cost of living crisis and inflation stubbornly hovering around 10% among voters.

In towns such as Swindon in south-west England, Labor leader Keir Starmer is targeting a bid to return his party to power at the next national election before January 2025.

“It’s a tipping point where we look to the next general election,” Labor MP Jonathan Reynolds told Reuters during a visit to Swindon.

Kieran Bedley, policy director at Ipsos, said Sunak had a stable influence but needed to address issues such as the cost of living to improve his party’s ratings ahead of the next national election.

“Although Sunak’s personal ratings are not great, they are not as toxic as those of his predecessors,” he said.

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